Today is Caol Ila day at Feis Ile 2017 and let me tell you something: Caol Ila may be the least sexy (or most boring – up for you to decide) distillery on Islay. We’re so familiar with their standard and unchanged lineup expressions and with no new expressions popping out from the distillery, it seems like Caol Ila is a bit forgotten. But let me tell you something: the spirit they produce at Caol Ila? It is underrated.
There are some jolly good whiskies coming out from those copper stills. Old Caol Ila whiskies are amazing and even the younger whiskies can be good.
Want a proof? Today’s whisky is your evidence. Initially I planned a review of te Official Caol Ila 25 yo which is more than decent and is available for purchase for a very decent price, but I ‘slipped’ and drank it all without writing notes. Oops.
So next Caol Ila on the shelf was this 19 year old Caol Ila bottled by SMWS. It’s a clear proof that Caol Ila whisky is good and also my first SMWS review in a long while. Damn I should review more of those!
SMWS 53.233 Fireman’s Gloves on a Mermaid (19 Year Old Caol Ila) (60.5%, 258 bottles)
Nose: Full of brine and salt, pudding-y, gentle peat smoke and bonfire smoke from afar, somewhat medicinal although it’s not laphroaig-esque and juicy. Continue reading
When a whisky is matured in 1st Fill Sherry Butts, you’d think it will sport dark color and big sherry notes in the whisky, but that’s not always the case because there are different kinds of sherry and different kind of casks.
Take for example this Caol Ila 2005 11 Year old from Gordon & Macphail. A vatting of 4 casks (Casks 301521, 301523, 301524 & 301527) that were all distilled on February 2005, lay asleep for a long time and then married together and bottled Last July. You wouldn’t think it’s a whisky matured in first fill sherry casks.
Caol Ila 2005 11 Year Old (Gordon & Macphail Cask Strength) (57.3%, £47.40/€69.95)
Nose: Classic Caol Ila peat smoke, red apples, lemon, smoke and saltiness, malt cereals, cream, cured meat and after a while some fruity fragrance. It’s a mellow nose and not a very complex one but it has structure and backbone. With a few drops of water it’s fruitier with more honey, a touch of pineapple, extra vanilla and pears, richer and stronger. Continue reading
Going back to Scotland after a short detour to SA, let’s check another one from the latest batch of The Whisky Exchange exclusives, a peated young Caol Ila.
It’s a 2007 vintage that was bottled in May 2016 making it a 8 Year Old whisky. 320 bottles were bottled from this 200L barrel thanks to a non cask strength ABV of 46%.
Caol Ila 2007 8 Year Old Signatory Vintage for TWE (46%, £55.95, Cask #315325)
It’s no news that Diageo release 2 affordable whiskies each year with their Special Releases annual series, The Lagavulin 12 and an unpeated release from Caol Ila.
The Lagavulin 12 2015 was already reviewed here (very favorable), so let’s check the other candidate this year: a 17 yo unpeated Caol Ila.
Interesting to see that it boast a jump of two years over last year’s release so it’s not coming from the same stock.
Caol Ila 17 Unpeated Style (Special Releases 2015) (55.9%, £89.95/€107/$144.99)
Nose: Dusty, oh so dusty, much more dusty than the 15 yo, that I had to re-check the bottle for whisky turbidity. Vanilla and honey, traces of peat smoke (even here you can’t really escape it ah?), pears, peaches and golden apples. After a few more minutes in the glass, it gets less dusty (although it’s still there in big way), sweeter and fruitier. Continue reading
Today is Caol Ila open day, so let’s review their Feis Ile 2014 bottling. It was the first Special/Feis Ile bottling done by the new distillery manager David Wood who try to carry on and stand up to Billy Stitchell’s work.
So the Feis Ile 2014 bottling? Not much to tell about it. It was matured in refill American oak hogsheads without any fancy finishes or tricks.
Caol Ila 2002 (Feis Ile 2014 bottling) (55.5%, 1500 bottles, £150)
Nose: Sweetness and peat with sweetness at first dominating the nose. Lemon and coconuts, a bit oily. With time there are ashes on the nose. With water it’s spicier and bring out a huge coconut concentration. Continue reading
From one Special Releases whisky to another Special Release whisky. In the last few iterations of Diageo Special Releases lineups, we learned to expect two affordable whiskies in the lineup: The Lagavulin 12yo cask strength and the the one we review today – the Caol Ila Unpeated.
The 2014 edition is 15 year old version, matured in first-fill ex-bourbon casks, where all previous editions were up to 14 years).
Caol Ila Unpeated 15yo (Special Releases 2014) (60.39%, 10,668 bottles ,£72/€89.95)
Nose: Starts with a wave of sweet fruits and it’s very dusty (partially due to the high ABV) and heavy, creamy cereal, lemon and despite it being unpeated, I occasionally do smell some sweet peat. With a few drops of water the ABV drops down and the dusty notes turns to mineral notes with salty touch, it becomes more sweet and fruity with tropical fruits like mango and passion-fruits. Continue reading
A new year has started and I hope you don’t have a hangover from last night festivities (at least not a bad one 🙂 ) so let’s welcome in the new year with a mini series of lovely high-end whiskies (you can call them posh if you want to), some are way expensive and some are still affordable – just like the one we review today: Caol Ila 25 Year Old.
It’s the revision that Caol Ila started bottling in 2010 at 43% while previous versions in 2004/5 were bottled at cask strength (if you got any of those, drop me an email!).
Nose: Hmm, I tend to forget how age diminish the peat impact and so the initial big fruity note caught me a bit off guard but then a gentle peat smoke joins in the background with pine, apples and sweet green melon. there may be even a bit of perfume here. with a few drops of water we also get honey. Continue reading